Thursday, April 03, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

I've been thinking a lot about this schedule of mine, which is both fabulous and yet... much more exhausting on certain days than my schedule has been historically.

See, when I started at this job, I fell into a 5 day/week schedule. Now, a lot of people (my colleagues at this job, most notably) when they would hear about this would often look at me askance and ask me why I allowed myself to be scheduled in this way, and they would say, "you know, you don't have to have that sort of a schedule if you don't want..." And I would sort of blow off the comment.

On the one hand, I really didn't know better, and so I made that schedule work once, and then once I made it work, I didn't want to risk changing it. Dr. Crazy, crazy though she may be, really does become fond of her routines. Now, what was positive about my 5 day/week schedule?

1. I was always done with teaching by noon. This meant that on nearly all days I'd be able to get off campus by 2 PM, if not before.
2. There was an order to my workdays that was consistent. I didn't tend to feel massively exhausted most of the time, but rather I was just running at around 40 mph consistently. There was little acceleration and deceleration unless I had a major deadline or a major batch of papers come in that needed to be graded.
3. Because I was on campus 5 days a week, and because I taught at pretty consistent times, it was really easy to schedule meetings with students around my schedule, even if it had to be outside of office hours.

Well, this semester I was able to manage getting a 3 day/week schedule. And I've managed to parlay that into a 3/day week schedule for the next two years. Now, I think this was ultimately an opportunity at which to jump, but it's been quite a transition getting used to this new schedule. Why?

1. On the days when I teach, I'm generally on campus 8-10 hours a day. This is grueling.
2. While there is a pattern to my week, there is not really consistency. It's like I'm going 25 mph on the days when I'm not teaching and 75 mph on the days when I teach. Now, there are benefits to this. I find I'm keeping up with grading in a more reliable way, and I'm more on track with my courses in terms of prep (although this has to do with other factors as well). But it also means that by the time Thursday hits, I'm wiped. A drawback that I'd not anticipated is that I'm actually less on track with research tasks. By the time I've recuperated from teaching somewhere around Sunday, and then gotten into the groove with research stuff, it's time to put it aside again for teaching. But I do have big blocks of time so I am having new ideas during the semester, which is a bonus that I've never had before. So I think research-wise this schedule's kind of a wash.
3. It's much more of a pain in the ass finding convenient times to meet with students. That said, I'm much better about protecting the time that is "mine" than I was when I knew I'd already be on campus every day of the week.

I suppose the point here is that I'm not sure if I'm more busy than I used to be, but I certainly am differently busy and I'm not quite in the rhythm of my busyness in the way that I used to be with the 5 day/week schedule.

And so it's Thursday, and I'm wiped, and I've got a long day ahead of me. A long, long day.


Anastasia said...

your five day a week schedule is exactly why academia is going to work for me. If I'm out of there by 2pm, I can be home when the kids get back from school.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ah, but I feel like I should note that "out by 2 nearly all days" means on days when I didn't have meetings or other things that made me stay longer. Yes, most of the time that didn't happen, but at least once a month I'd have a dept. meeting that kept me on campus until 5, and probably 2 or 3 other days in a month I'd have to stay about that late as well. Up that number if something big was going on like a search. That's not to say that the schedule can't work for somebody with children, but I've noticed that the people who tend to have the best luck with that already have tenure, at least at my institution. For junior faculty it can really be a struggle, however "flexible" one's dept. is about teaching schedule.

Anastasia said...

I'm sure you're right about that. I'm sure the extent to which flexibility extends beyond teaching schedule varies by institution. I don't have any actual experience with this but this did come up in my campus interview and I had a clear sense from them that general flexibility, even beyond teaching schedule, was something the institution was interested in providing for both faculty and staff. I think it helps that kids are welcome on campus and that in that town, kid's school, home, and campus are likely to be within five minutes of each other. It helps to be able to get the kids home from school and still have time to get back to campus for a meeting.

anyway, "most days" would still be a good thing for me, I think. And now I have officially hijacked your comments to go off on a completely random tangent that has everything to do with ME ME ME and nothing to do with what you wrote.

Artistic Soul said...

I actually had the opposite experience. When I was on campus five days a week, I was always exhausted and never got things done. Now that I'm on a 3 day a week schedule, yes, I'm on campus 8-10 hours a day, but I do a lot of work from home or via email. I don't have the random students that stop by to chat, or the invitations to meetings/events/etc like I used to, so on the days I'm not teaching, I really do get to carve out time for myself to do whatever I need to get done.

life_of_a_fool said...

Part of the problem for me, too, is just adjusting to each new schedule. This semester I most often have a minimum 12 hour Wednesday, and I'm exhausted, with half the week to go. I do think I would **hate** having to be here 5 days a week though (especially teaching 5 days).

Wordsmith said...

It's Thursday, also known as "recovery day." I've had the 3-day week schedule for a few semesters now. Although I love it, my Mondays and Wednesday are killer 12-hour days. Every semester I have grand plans for Thursdays, but it's all I can do to get out of bed and brew some coffee. I rarely get to any grading, planning or writing.
I'm not sure I would trade the 3-day week, but I often wonder if I'd be a bit more energetic with that last class of the M/W day if it were actually spread out during the week.

gwinne said...

I liked the having the same rhythm to my days when I taught five days a week (at a SLAC). But I also like being able to work from home on my non-teaching days (now at an R1). While I'm good about protecting my time from meeting with students, I do find that most weeks I'm on campus on non-teaching days for meetings and such at least once. Even a weekend meeting isn't unheard of around here...

Belle said...

This term I have a five day schedule, but three of those are one-class days, meaning I can set aside whole blocks of hours for research. This is good.

Bad is those other two days, which are 10 hour days and completely exhausting. I've yet to find a schedule that is conducive to researching; need one badly. If you find one that works, please share!

Astroprof said...

This semester, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have classes that start at 9:30am. But, my lasts classes of the day end at 10:20pm. So, that makes for 13 hour days. Talk about exhausting ... .